What is the setting of Journey to the Center of the Earth, and why is it important? 

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Large portions of the setting for this story are fictional. At the time that Verne wrote this book, geologists were not sure what the interior of Earth was like. In typical Verne fashion, the text weaves known science with fiction . After descending through a volcano into the Earth's interior,...

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Large portions of the setting for this story are fictional. At the time that Verne wrote this book, geologists were not sure what the interior of Earth was like. In typical Verne fashion, the text weaves known science with fiction. After descending through a volcano into the Earth's interior, the setting is fictional locations inside Earth. Regarding actual locations, the story begins in Hamburg, Germany in the spring of 1863. The story begins with Axel explaining to readers that Otto Lidenbrock had discovered a manuscript written by a 16th century Icelandic man. The manuscript supposedly narrates a path to the center of Earth, and the path begins at Mount Snaeffels in Iceland. The men then travel to Reykjavik, Iceland in order to gain access to the starting location. The story ends with the men being ejected from Stromboli's vent in Italy.

The setting is important mainly because it gives readers a believable exploration story. Readers know that hollow spaces exist in Earth. Big caves and caverns have been known about for centuries. Additionally, it makes a certain amount of sense that the throat of a volcano could give a person access to Earth's interior. Unfortunately, Earth's interior is not nearly as full of big, hollow, and open spaces as Verne's story would lead us to believe, but it still makes a great story.

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The setting begins in Germany, where Professor Lidenbrock lives with his nephew, Axel. They journey to Iceland, where they have learned lies the entrance of a passage to the center of the earth. The story takes the two men, along with their guide Hans, through the subterranean passages that lead to an underground world. In this world they find an ocean, along with dinosaurs and prehistoric men.

The setting is important, of course, because it provides the way along which they journey. It has hidden dangers in abundance, and there is no quick escape route along the way (until the very end). These dangers move the plot along by providing adventures for the travelers, which they always manage to escape. Unlike many of Jules Verne’s stories, the scientific background for this passage to the center of the earth is unfounded. It is now believed that the earth is molten rock for much of the center, making such a passage impossible. Yet much of the geology has some scientific basis, and thus gives the illusion of scientific truth.

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